House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ocean.


Oceans ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can only agree with the remarks made and views expressed by my distinguished colleague from Gaspé. I must commend him because he has very aptly represented the views of the Bloc Quebecois on this issue. He knows the subject and the bill before us inside out.

Naturally, I will take this opportunity to support the amendment he has brought forward this afternoon. I think there are still too many outstanding issues that must be resolved. He mentioned British Columbia. I think that the government of that province has maintained a very dignified attitude vis-à-vis the federal government. It voiced complaints and criticisms, and made claims that the federal government has not seen fit to take into account.

For these reasons, I support the amendment put forward this afternoon by the hon. member for Gaspé.

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4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Before resuming debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Portneuf-Telecommunications; the hon. member for Saskatoon-Clark's Crossing-Justice.

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4:25 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of Bill C-26 and to respond to the concerns raised by the Bloc Quebecois members of the House.

The Bloc Quebecois is concerned that in some way the Canada Oceans Act infringes on the rights and jurisdiction of the prov-

inces. Such concerns are valid concerns for any province to have, but they simply do not apply with respect to the Canada Oceans Act.

On the contrary, the spirit of this legislation is to bring the various stakeholders together to participate in integrated ocean management. The objective is to work in close co-operation with provincial governments and other agencies to create partnerships and to jointly develop concrete plans for managing marine resources.

This is quite obvious if one reads the preamble of the act which states in part that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will encourage the development and implementation of a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems in collaboration with other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, with-I say with-provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including those bodies established under land claims agreements.

Obviously the provincial role is central to this act. Clause 29 states specifically that the minister, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments among others, shall lead and facilitate the development and implementation of a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems.

There is no exclusion of the provinces. There is total respect for the integrity of provincial ocean territory and there is a specific recognition that the oceans management strategy outlined in the Canada Oceans Act must be the result of concerted efforts between the federal government and the provinces.

Further to this, the provinces are mentioned specifically in the clause dealing with integrated management plans and in the clause dealing with the implementation of these plans. They are key players. Clause 33(1)(a) states:

In exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions assigned to the minister by this act, the minister (a) shall co-operate with other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, with provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations-

The provinces are again mentioned in clause 33(2) which deals with consultation. Does this sound like an exclusionary act? Does this sound like an act that wants to take away the rights and privileges of the provinces? No, it does not because it is not. The government would not be here today promoting the act if it were.

Bill C-26 respects the rights and jurisdiction of all provinces and territories. It provides for an integrated strategy of oceans managements developed in co-operation with those provinces and territories. The legislation does not make any changes to the present constitutional framework or to the distribution of powers between the federal government and the provinces. It does not encroach in any way on provincial rights. Any such fears are totally unfounded.

The Canada oceans act is all about partnership. It will make it possible for Canadians to work together to preserve our oceans' resource. In no way, as has been suggested, a grab for more power by the federal government at the expense of any province.

The bill before us today calls on all Canadians to come together to develop that strategy that combines a harnessing of the oceans' economic potential with a respect for the oceans' environmental needs. The national environmental agenda can no longer be separated from the national economic agenda.

Bill C-26 puts in place the fundamentals to ensure the convergence of Canada's economic and environmental agendas for our oceans. Indeed it goes even further than that. It puts in place the fundamental legislative foundation to ensure that Canada's ocean strategy is based on converging environmental, economic, social and foreign policies.

Ocean resources are not finite. We have learned that the hard way. We have learned that human actions can jeopardize fragile ocean ecosystems. We have learned that ocean species and resources are independent. We have learned also that the environmental health of our oceans is directly connected with our country's economic health. If we abuse the oceans we pay the price for that abuse.

The Canada oceans act formalizes Canada's jurisdiction over nearly five million square kilometres of ocean. It creates a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone for Canada in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. What does that jurisdiction mean for Canadians? It gives Canada the right to explore and exploit the resources of the waters, the seabed and the subsoil in this exclusive economic zone. It also gives us the right and the responsibility to conserve and manage the living and non-living resources in that zone.

As all hon. members are aware, if we do not conserve and manage those resources wisely, it will not be long before there will be no resources to explore or to exploit. What the bill now before this House is doing is setting out the legislative framework for new oceans management strategy. That is why the bill consolidates and clarifies specific federal responsibilities for implementing the new strategy. Note I said consolidates and clarifies. There is no question here of a power grab at the expense of the provinces.

Bill C-26 calls for sustainable development of Canada's oceans and their integrated management. It is only through sustainable development and integrated management that we can make our economic and environmental agendas converge.

The Canada oceans act is based on that wisdom. It is based on the philosophy of sustainable development. The bill takes mea-

sures to give life to the principle of sustainable development by putting in place a basis for Canadian action plans for our oceans.

The Canada oceans act will extend Canadian environmental legislation to include the new exclusive economic zones. The act will make the the Department of Fisheries and Oceans the common focal point for co-ordinating federal ocean activities. It will authorize the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to develop marine quality guidelines and to establish marine protected areas.

The act will give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans responsibility for conducting and facilitating marine research. The act will give the minister the authority to lead in co-ordinating the activities of all Canadians in the development of a shared Canadian oceans strategy. The act will enable the minister to enter into new partnership agreements, to share ocean information, to share ocean research and to share ocean planning and ocean management.

That is why this bill is about sharing. It is only through working together that we can reduce duplication and conflicts. It is only through working together that we can increase the effectiveness of measures to protect the ocean environment. It is only through working together that we can adopt a comprehensive ecosystem based approach to comprehensive ecosystem problems.

The Canada oceans act recognizes that efforts to promote sustainable development of our oceans cannot take place in isolation. Sustainable development of our oceans is not the sole responsibility of the federal government. It requires efforts on the local level, the provincial level, the regional level, the national level and the international level. It requires efforts by all of us, acting both individually and together.

We absolutely need national goals and national priorities. We also need community based planning and meaningful local decision making. We also need provincial planning and decision making. None of us can do the job alone.

The Canada oceans act is not a federal power grab. It is far from it. The Canada oceans act represents the federal government's taking its obligations to our oceans seriously and responsibly. A critical aspect of those obligations is the creation of a legal foundation to enable provinces and territories, businesses and environmentalists, fisheries and ocean industries to pull together and to pull in the same direction.

We all want Canada's oceans to be productive, safe and healthy. We can achieve that only by making Canada a world leader in ocean and marine resource management. We can achieve it only if we manage our oceans in close co-operation with one another.

The Canada oceans act is very precise and very detailed in describing Canada's new oceans jurisdiction. It is very precise and very detailed in describing the reorganization and the renewal of federal responsibilities for our oceans. However, it is quite open ended with respect to the precise elaboration of the new ocean management strategy. That is because we must build the strategy together. We need to draw on each other's strengths and we need to be sensitive to each other's aspirations.

As we travel through Canada's provinces we find concentrations of knowledge and skill. We find not only ocean scientists, engineers and business managers, we also find people in fishing communities with generations of accumulated knowledge about currents, salinity, water depth, temperatures, tides and navigational routes. That knowledge is important in the development of a national ocean marine strategy.

A major challenge in building a new strategy is to make certain that we link all that knowledge together and share it with one another. We need to understand what we know and what we do not know. We need to understand how each of our ocean regions is unique and how our ocean regions are interdependent. We need more incite into all aspects of our oceans and their resources. That will take a tremendous effort and amount of co-operation; a multidisciplinary effort. It is going to take a long time.

The Canada oceans act will facilitate the process by allowing the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to make federal research and scientific data widely available across Canada. The bill will also give the minister the power to enter into new agreements to promote ocean scientists' research. The bill will also enable the minister to work co-operatively with all ocean stakeholders in marine resource management. Thus we are poised to enter a new era of domestic conservation, management and enforcement agreements for the wide range of ocean resources made available to Canadians through jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zone.

Let us also note that Canada's ocean marine strategy must place the highest priority on marine safety. The Canada oceans act confirms the merger of the Canada Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This is a key common sense action to meld ocean responsibilities with ocean safety.

Our aim is to work in harmony to develop even better safety enhancing technologies and navigational systems as we forge a future of ocean sustainable development. This legislation makes it possible to form new domestic agreements to assist ocean trade and commerce. We can work co-operatively to transfer technologies from government and academic researchers to the private sector. We can work co-operatively to improve resource assessment and inspection. We can harmonize regulations and guarantee services

provided by different levels of government to meet the needs of our sea coast communities and ports effectively.

The Canada oceans act makes it possible for Canadians to work together to shape the best national answers and the best local answers for the sustainable development of our very precious ocean resources. It provides for the components of an integrated ocean strategy. Those components are a better understanding of oceans, better resource management, better environmental management, increased safety and increased trade and commerce. That is what the Canada oceans act is all about. It is about sharing and working together.

If we are to have a future at all, if we are to have oceans with resources for future generations to develop, we must learn to work together as partners.

In no way can it be asserted that in this bill the Government of Canada is assuming the right to legislate unilaterally on Canada's maritime regions. On the contrary, the spirit of this legislation is to bring stakeholders together to participate in integrated oceans management. The objective is to work in close co-operation with provincial governments and other agencies to create partnerships and jointly develop plans for managing marine resources.

As I said earlier, Bill C-26 respects Quebec's territorial integrity and the territorial integrity of every province and territory in this country. It respects the rights and the jurisdictions of the provinces and territories. It provides for an integrated strategy of ocean management developed in co-operation with the provinces.

I urge all hon. members of this House to support the Canada oceans act.

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4:40 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member for Cumberland-Colchester, and I cannot help but conclude that this is just more double talk from a government that keeps quoting fine principles.

For example, the member said: "The spirit of this legislation is to bring stakeholders together. It is about national goals and national priorities. It is about sharing and working together". At the same time, this bill divides Canada into three different zones as far as navigational aids are concerned, each zone having different conditions, which means different fees. In the end, what we have here is the old philosophy of dividing and ruling.

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4:40 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question. In my opinion the reason the bill has divided our oceans into three zones is that we are talking about three oceans. We are talking about the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. This is a vast and great country and it is imperative that we meet the needs of all its zones.

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4:40 p.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Cumberland-Colchester is quite excited about this bill and it escapes me as to the reason for that.

When I look at the bill I do not see too much there. I see that the government is committed into entering into negotiations with various groups to determine a strategy. For example, in section 29 it says: "The minister in collaboration with other ministers-" and it goes on and on as to the groups he is going to collaborate with. It says he shall lead and facilitate the development and implementation of a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems and waters that form part of Canada or in which Canada has sovereign rights under international law. What does that mean? What is the policy? What management strategy is the government going to pursue? I do not know. I would bet dollars to doughnuts the hon. member does not know what the strategy is either.

That is the problem with the bill. It sets up the minister as a dictator. He can determine what the policy is going to be, make it up as he goes along. The rest of us will have no say in it because it will be passed, it will be law and there will be nothing we can do about it.

The people who sent us here will have complaints about the legislation. It will not get any support because there is absolutely nothing. We are giving the government carte blanche to do what it wants.

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4:45 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question. Coming from the marine territory of Nova Scotia, which is surrounded by water, I am fully aware of the implications of the bill.

When the government came to power I made three promises to the Canadian people; sustainable finances, sustainable economic development and sustainable environmental development.

This bill practices sustainable environmental development. How well the Canadian people know what past rules, regulations and policies have done to our ocean resources. How well the people off the coastal waters of the Atlantic know what has happened without resource management.

This bill brings together a facilitation process, not a dictatorial process, where the federal government in co-operation with the coastal provinces, whether they be Atlantic, Pacific or northern, will communicate and share information on scientific, resource, industrial, oceanographic matters. We will develop sustainable policies, not only for this generation but for the future of our young people.

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4:45 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague from Delta indicated, the hon. member who just spoke seems to think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I am not exactly sure why.

I know time is short for questions and comments. I would like to point out to the hon. member that the Reform Party put forward a number of amendments at report stage about which I spoke a few minutes ago. We feel it is crucial that any and all fees brought about by the legislation should not be implemented until a full socioeconomic impact analysis is done.

The member spoke quite eloquently in her presentation about how co-operatively the minister and the government would be in implementing this national strategy. I wonder why her party voted against the amendments which would have made it necessary for the minister and the government to initiate a full impact study before the fees were put in place. The people in her riding involved in the industry would have a say about what the fees would be and whether the fees would would have a positive or negative impact on their industry.

How did she vote? Why did the government members vote against this?

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4:45 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, again I reiterate that the government made the promise of sustainable finances and a sustainable environment. They are part and parcel of the legislation.

I live on the coast of Nova Scotia where fees will be implemented as they will be on the west coast. People there know what fees are.

I find it interesting that the hon. member would talk about fees when it is his party that wants to cut everything in sight and reduce the deficit faster. It seems quite admirable that he would stand in the House today and challenge why we are creating fees and cutting the deficit.

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4:50 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-26, but I do so with much less enthusiasm than the hon. member who just spoke.

First, we must publicly condemn the fees that will cause all kinds of problems in the various departments since, under this legislation, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will have authority to get involved in matters relating to the environment.

The hon. member for Gaspé does an excellent job as the official opposition critic on issues that relate to fisheries and oceans. He had an opportunity to meet hundreds of witnesses who expressed their disagreement with the bill that the minister wants the House to pass.

Following the representations made by the hon. member for Gaspé, the Bloc Quebecois proposed amendments in the House that would have had the effect of protecting the resource, the environment and the industry, while making all fishing boats safer.

These amendments were proposed by the Bloc at second reading, but the minister did not seem to agree with them. He did not deem appropriate to include them so as to improve Bill C-26 which, in fact, violates certain prerogatives of the provinces.

Yet, the minister must, in Bill C-26, respect these provincial prerogatives. Obviously, a federal act affecting the St. Lawrence Seaway, such as Bill C-26, does not concern Quebec only, but all the provinces. Today, these issues are being raised mostly by the Bloc Quebecois. The Reform Party also proposed amendments, but we must make the federal government aware of the problems that it will create for every provincial environment department.

It is also important that the federal government seek the approval of its provincial counterparts, since this legislation will create management problems for them. The bill will cause more overlap and duplication, which is already a $6 billion problem for Quebec and Ottawa alone.

In this case, the overlap will not necessarily occur between the federal and provincial governments, but between departments. Indeed, if we read Bill C-26, we can see that it gives powers to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans regarding the environmental sector. I will get back to this later on.

The Liberals are once again resorting to one of their good old techniques. They claim to be consulting, they pat people on the back, but in the end they will do as they please. Why waste MPs' time, whether they are Liberals, Reformers or Bloc members? We all have better things to do. Our work in committee is an important task.

When the House refers a bill to the fisheries and oceans committee, it means the committee will conduct a clause by clause review. However, this is a futile exercise, since the minister does as he pleases. The minister decides what he wants to do; if the dice have already been cast, they should tell us. There is no use sending a bill to a committee for study and calling witnesses from across Canada, from Quebec City to Halifax and from Montreal to Vancouver, to come here and tell us they do not agree with the legislation, if unfortunately the minister does not take into account submissions to the committee.

In any case, we, in the Bloc Quebecois, have agreed to keep on condemning the mess the minister is about to make in the shipping industry as well as in the pleasure boating industry. If the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans wants to pass, with Bill C-26, legislation to ensure the safety of ships, the Bloc has no quarrel with it. And if the

idea is to make the users of marine infrastructures pay for the cost of the coast guard in order to ensure people's safety, the Bloc has no quarrel with that, either.

However, the fault we find with the legislation is that it goes too far in involving the coast guard in controlliing pleasure craft. I find it hard to imagine the coast guard patrolling the hundreds and thousands of lakes on the north shore used exclusively for hunting and fishing. It is hard to imagine the coast guard regulating and making sure that someone driving a boat with a 2 hp or 4 hp motor is qualified to drive that boat, to put gas in the motor or change the spark plugs. Or course, it will have to make sure the boat is equipped with life buoys.

People in our area know all these things and we do not want the coast guard involved in matters of hunting and fishing and tourism, which could hurt our tourism industry. I can hardly imagine coast guard vessels sailing up and down our rivers. It will be very expensive, because its vessels will run aground a few times. We do not have too many rivers that are navigable, except for fishing boats.

Bill C-26 also claims titles of sovereignty. I do not quite get the idea. If they come up with such a bill, are we to understand that the federalists have caught the sovereignty fever?

There are also many grey areas in this bill. A few things are not quite clear, and the government should pay attention to these grey areas. That was done in committee and in different forums.

I wonder if I am not just wasting my time today, trying to explain to Liberal members how important it is for the government to get the co-operation of the provinces concerning this bill and the use of exclusive provincial jurisdiction over the environment. I have already said that, but it bears repeating.

The provinces, the environment departments and the provincial officials should not be considered mere associates. They should be involved and they should be given the opportunity to voice their views and say what they think of Bill C-26, or it will become a nuisance if they are not consulted.

The provinces should be involved in discussions. They should be more than mere associates, as I said. They should help draft this bill. Then it would be easier for the federal government to see to the implementation of this legislation within each of the provinces.

In one of its amendments, the Bloc Quebecois asks that the rights and jurisdiction of the provinces be respected for the management of the environment and the marine infrastructure on the north shore. The Bloc Quebecois wants to protect the right of the provinces over any area of the sea in which a law of a province applies and over the living resources of that area. The Bloc also wants to ensure that the provinces take part in the development and implementation of the oceans management strategy.

Bill C-26 also deals with the environment and I will have the opportunity later on to examine the environmental system in more detail. The Bloc Quebecois also tried to force the minister to consult the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. For greater openness, the government should have agreed to have its decisions sanctioned by elected representatives of all political parties. It is important to consult every political party. Members of Parliament have been elected by the people to represent all of the ridings throughout Canada. I think there are 75 ridings in the province of Quebec, which means 75 members of Parliament from Quebec, who should all have their say about this.

The Bloc members are the only ones to criticize this bill, except for the Conservative member for Sherbrooke and the independent member for Beauce. Where are the other members?

What are the Liberal members doing in this House? They have been gagged and their actions have been restricted. I am sure that, back home, in Charlevoix, the people are criticizing this bill and that the residents on the north shore or in Charlevoix are not the only ones to do so. The Bloc Quebecois members are not the only ones to be worried about this piece of legislation. I would like the Liberal members who were elected to represent their constituents to reject this proposal coming from their colleague, the minister.

One of the purposes of Bill C-26 is to encourage the federal ministers to talk to each other. Do we need a bill to encourage the Liberal members to talk to each other as well? As far as I know, there still is cabinet, which meets quite regularly. It is in the interest of ministers to see to it that the machinery of government is working properly.

I want to make a point here. Since the events back in June, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans proceeded with the first step of the rate setting process for navigational aids. Twenty million dollars were taken out of the taxpayers' pockets. This is a hidden tax.

Marine companies received bills during the summer even though the impact study on the new initiatives will be ready only in November. If ridicule kills, many will die. It is fortunate that ridicule never killed anyone because it is ridiculous to implement such regulations and bill people who kindly helped and contributed in spite of the fact that there is an injunction order against this rate setting process.

Three major companies asked for an injunction. Even though the bill has not yet been passed and has been challenged, and even though an injunction was made, the Minister of Fisheries and

Oceans sent bills for $20 million to companies currently using the services of the coast guard.

But there is more to come. In the next few days, the government wants to get $40 million more. This is a hidden tax. The government says in its red book that it will not raise taxes while increasing services, but we have found out what is going on. The Liberal government is resorting to a hidden tax to raise taxes. This is just another way of taxing small taxpayers, in particular users of pleasure craft or inland vessels.

Here is an example. The Société des traversiers du Québec, that operates a ferry on the St. Lawrence between Matane and Baie-Comeau or Matane and Godbout, will be hit by a $25,000 increase in only one year. And I am saying a $25,000 increase because the Société des traversiers du Québec will have to pass on the costs of this new rate structure to users.

I will say it again. This rate increase for crossing the river by ferry between Matane and Baie-Comeau and Matane and Godbout, which applies to products-and we know that many food products and materials are shipped across the river-will mean a higher cost of living in exchange as a result of the impact of this bill.

What I find most laughable is the fees charged for pleasure craft. The Bloc had brought forward amendments calling for the removal of all references to navigation and pleasure craft. It is unacceptable that the minister should grab the power to act on rivers and lakes that, for the most part, are managed by the Government of Quebec.

In Quebec, rivers and lakes are managed by the province's Department of Environment, and that includes the fauna and flora as well as the water. Furthermore, the Government of Quebec manages the land surrounding lakes as regards to the building of hunting camps or cottages.

When the federal government says it will manage pleasure craft, I wonder if it will go as far as taxing outdoor recreational equipment like surfboards, pedalos and water skiing equipment. And it may not have thought of it, but if it is a few cents short with its hidden tax, it could tax life buoys. But since the goal is to increase security, I suppose the minister has thought of it. Just about the only piece of equipment that left out is the lifebuoy.

Bill C-26 gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans powers that already belong to the Minister of the Environment. The bill seems to be creating a sectoral department of the environment: the department of the coastal environment. If that was done in all sectors, we would have a department of transport environment, a department of industry environment, etc. All departments would end up with environmental protection and conservation powers. If that is the direction the government wants to go, it should abolish the Department of the Environment.

I have been sitting on the environment committee for one year as parliamentary assistant to the hon. member for Laurentides. Recently, the minister told us that there was no environmental issue. When we ask a question of a minister, we want to talk to a minister who has a plan, an agenda, we want to talk to a minister who knows where he is going. When the minister moves away from his plan or agenda, we ask him questions, we try to make him stick to that agenda.

The present Minister of the Environment as well as the former one, who is now Deputy Prime Minister, have any plan. It seems to me that the Department of the Environment still exists only because it has always existed, but there is no co-ordination whatsoever. I understand that the federal government wants to give the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and to the Department of Transport their share, but I hope that one day it will abolish the Department of the Environment if nobody here in Ottawa is in charge of environmental protection.

I would say that the Minister of the Environment is not in a very comfortable position. To use a maritime analogy, I would say that in the environment sector, we are adrift in a dinghy without a captain.

It is important to bring this government back to its senses. The minister has to be responsible for environment and must have backbone and be able to say to his Cabinet colleagues: "Just a minute. As Minister of Environment, I am responsible for everything that concerns the environment, be it at Fisheries and Oceans or Transport Canada. We have a department called Environment Canada and we intend to administer all areas relating to environment".

For the last six months or so the definition of sustainable development has been under study. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is bypassing once more the Department of Environment. I believe that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has enough in his own backyard to keep himself busy. He should let Environment Canada administer the environment.

Those sections empower the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to develop and implement a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. This strategy will require the implementation of plans for the management of activities, the establishment of management or advisory bodies, the development of numerous programs, the establishment of environmental standards, the gathering and analysis of scientific data on the ecosystems involved. What a waste!

This bill provides for the establishment of a program, the implementation of a plan, the development and establishment of bodies but all those things already exist in the environment sector.

There will be duplication and overlap between federal and provincial governments, and, as I was saying, they are creating more and more problems here with yet another example of duplication and overlap between departments.

In no case does the bill require the department to agree with other federal departments or with the provinces in this process. The minister is not required to agree with his ministerial colleagues or with the provinces. He has a free hand. He can do as he pleases. It is one hell of a situation. It makes no sense. Liberal members are going to have to tone down their enthusiasm and bring their minister, who is about to do something that will probably cost a lot of money, back into line. If he is allowed to go his own way, it will be a major disaster.

That the minister is not required to work in co-operation with environment officials in particular and with other departments in general is inconsistent and unacceptable. At a time when positions are being cut and the government is supposed to be cutting its spending, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is creating duplication within the federal government. That was what I was explaining.

Of course, we want to bring down the deficit and that is why the Liberals were elected, but they should not bring it down at the expense of the most disadvantaged, or by creating a disguised tax, or by going after the very tools workers need by imposing additional fees on their boats. After they are registered, it is almost certain that there will be no way to keep track, and if so, how much will it cost?

In theory, the Department of the Environment will be responsible for administering this additional jurisdiction, with the co-operation of each of the departments concerned. As I was saying, the minister would do well to consult each of the departments.

There is now considerable overlap and duplication in federal and provincial environment regulations. Private enterprise is therefore very often forced to spend time, money and energy obtaining information on the numerous government programs; providing the two levels of government with the required information and data; sitting on the many advisory committees and sub-committees responsible for regulating industry; preparing for inspections conducted by the federal and provincial governments; and, finally, meeting the requirements of both levels of government.

In this regard, the toxic waste regulations are a convincing example. At this time, eight federal regulations overlap similar regulations that exist in Quebec. Let us take, for example, the storage of PCB material regulations and the pulp and paper effluent regulations. Quebec sovereignty would have resolved all this by eliminating overlap and duplication.

I am certain that each of the provinces, and certainly Quebec, has regulations concerning bodies of water, as do municipalities and

RCMs. There are provincial and municipal committees on the environment. Each of the municipalities and RCMs has green plans.

When the minister says he will impose fees on pleasure craft, it gets to where I wonder whether the minister will not start tattooing registration numbers on the back or leg of anyone swimming across Lac Saint-Jean next year.

I will be one of the members of the Bloc Quebecois voting against Bill C-26. I could have said a lot more, for it is truly a scandalous bill.

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5:15 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his intervention. I would like to pose some questions that might accelerate our proceeding to the conclusion of the debate.

Would he recognize that it is a matter of high urgency to establish a jurisdictional base in Canadian law against predatory foreign interests in our contiguous zone and our exclusive economic zone, and that these interests are so far only protected under international law and pending ratification of the law of the sea convention, customary international law and bilateral treaties? Would he concede this urgency?

In so far as there may exist in his view difficulties in co-operation between the provincial government-in this case I believe he was speaking of Quebec-and the federal government, would he be prepared to study the recent memorandum of understanding between the Government of British Columbia and the federal government? It is directed to a cognate problem under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean's coastal communities where co-operative federalism is being achieved without the necessity of a constitutional amendment, which we recognize under chapter five of the 1982 act is almost impossible to achieve.

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5:15 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a problem when one reads Bill C-26. How could the federal government be concerned about the area you just mentioned, when it has no regard for its partners, the provinces? You should start by paying attention to these partners, the provinces which are going to help you manage and plan this bill you are getting ready to enact.

I believe that the government's strategy is first and foremost to set fees. Let us be honest. It is money you are after, not foreign products. You are not interested in knowing what is going to happen and how. It is money you need. And you are going to do it

under the guise of safety. You are going to set fees, claiming they are needed for safety and protection.

I believe that if we removed the fees, and kept only the elements related to safety and protection, the minister would not be interested in having this piece of legislation passed. He is only interested in money. He is even putting a tax on small sail boats, windsurfers, pedal boats, etc. It is obvious he is grabbing whatever he can.

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5:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Colleagues, I would ask you to address your remarks to the Chair. Thank you.

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5:15 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to congratulate my colleague from Charlevoix for his presentation. I have a question for him that concerns the environment.

If I may, I would first like to respond to the parliamentary secretary's question and set the record straight for the members who are here tonight-I am concerned about fisheries while my colleague was more interested in the environmental aspects-as well as the people watching us on television.

The question of my hon. colleague from B.C. is as follows: Do you want us to pass this bill because it is the only way to protect our marine environment, our waters from the whole world?

I simply want to inform this House and the parliamentary secretary that part I of this bill canadianizes the terminology used in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. How can we provide a little more protection for our waters? Do we want international recognition?

We simply grab a pen, go to the UN and sign the Convention on the Law of the Sea. That is how it will be done, not by signing this here in Ottawa. Even fisheries and oceans officials said that part I of the bill was not needed. This goes without saying.

Having said that, I took notes during my colleague from Charlevoix's speech, and I noticed that, as assistant to the official opposition critic on the environment, he paid attention to the measures the government is about to take.

My colleague pointed out the communications links provided between some government departments like justice or the solicitor general and fisheries and oceans for enforcing certain regulations.

My hon. colleague surely noticed that Bill C-26 makes no mention of the relationship between Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and I should remind this House that, when this bill was drafted, the two ministers responsible were the current Deputy Prime Minister and Brian Tobin. Mr. Tobin himself told a committee that these two departments or individuals were the yin and the yang.

So here is my question, which I think he also mentioned: In the absence of duly written rights, does my colleague expect some duplication-as I understood from his speech-between the two federal ministers?

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5:20 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, in reply to the allegation of the member for Gaspé, who is parliamentary critic for fisheries, I think there will be more than one duplication. Let us take an example. Quebec is already involved in the environmental area. Ottawa, through Environment Canada, is trying to legislate in that same area. Already you have a duplication there.

Besides that, we will create duplication within departments. The environment minister will have no power whatsoever because, apparently, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will have the ability to legislate without consulting the Minister of the Environment.

The minister will have the freedom to have Bill C-26 pass and implement it as he pleases, provided Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the plant life and the wildlife; in other words, he will be able to interfere in areas governed by Environment Canada, without consulting that department. Afterwards, Environment Canada will try to act also, because public servants in that department will want to save their jobs.

But the environment minister will also want to protect his job. Somewhere along the road there will be frustrations and bickering. When they come out of the cabinet meetings, there will be quarrelling, because the environment minister will feel powerless since the fisheries and oceans minister will be doing his job. It makes no sense.

Again, I think this goes far beyond duplication and overlap, it means people are looking for something to do and that means real waste. We are wasting our energies trying to invent something that already exists internally.

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5:20 p.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to take part in the debate on the Canada Oceans Act.

Canada is by any global standard a maritime nation. It is a nation with unique, vast and diverse ocean resources. Geographically Canada has the longest salt water coastline of any nation in the world and the longest archipelago. With the declaration of an exclusive economic zone, Canada's ocean territory will be the equivalent of one-half of its land territory. Canada truly is a water world.

With these three distinct ocean environments, the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific, Canadian coastlines represent the most fascinating ecosystem diversity on earth. Canada is never very far from its oceans. For this reason Canada must place ocean management very high on its list of priorities.

Eight provinces and both territories possess salt water coastlines, as does my constituency of Carleton-Charlotte located on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Carleton-Charlotte represents diversity in its many industries: agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and processing, fishing and aquaculture to name a few. This diversity exemplifies the economic and long term sustainable benefits of our natural resources base and the urgent need to conserve them. The oceans act is a fundamental building block of natural resources management, the area where Canada has and will continue to be a leader.

The global environment behaves as an umbrella, an end and constantly changing result of its primary components, the natural resources. Environmentally, the influence of the oceans on the Canadian climate is felt by all parts of the country. Hudson Bay acts as a great temperature moderator to central Canada. The bay brings cool nights to temper the hot summer prairie days. The resulting climate has given Canada the most productive agriculture region in the world.

On the east coast the cold Atlantic mixes with the warm gulf stream to create the wonderful variable climate that has shaped a coastline of unsurpassed beauty. Tourists from all over the world come to admire the marvellous ocean scenery and the world's highest tides found along the Bay of Fundy coast in Carleton-Charlotte.

Culturally, the oceans have contributed to the tradition and character of the Canadian fabric. From the earliest records of aboriginal settlements to the arrival of the first Europeans, the oceans have been a stage on which Canadian history has been played.

It was the glowing reports of the bountiful oceans and the quest for the promised ocean route to the Orient that accelerated the pace of development. The Europeans prized the fish, whale and seals they found in the Canadian Atlantic as much as they prized the gold and silver of Mexico and the spices and silks of the West Indies.

The oceans continue to be stamped indelibly on our culture and social consciousness. Each year Canadians everywhere make their annual pilgrimage to the seashore. The ocean literature and art by numerous Canadian authors and artists such as Farley Mowat, Emily Carr and David Blackwood are indeed cherished classics.

Economically, Canada's ocean fisheries have suffered setbacks in recent years with the collapse of the groundfish industry in the east, directly affecting my constituency of Carleton-Charlotte, and the reduction of salmon catches on the west coast. However, there is much opportunity and promise in new technologies and new ocean ventures. The conservation initiatives have provided for optimistic futures.

Canada's aquaculture industry continues to grow as an international industry. The aquaculture industry is predicted to generate over $1 billion in sales, including some $500 million in export sales by the year 2000.

The finest restaurants in the world serve seafood grown in Canada. The Bay of Fundy Salmon Marketing Institute, a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association, has recently launched its certified quality Bay of Fundy salmon. The program has been implemented to ensure quality standards in all 13 of its processing plants. These salmon must pass some 30 quality standards to gain certified quality designation. Watch for the blue and gold logo on the gill tag and sticker, guaranteeing a quality product.

The Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering, C-CORE, at Memorial University in Newfoundland is increasing its international component each year. Its international component is projected to be 50 per cent of its total projects within the next five years. At least a dozen Newfoundland high technology companies can trace their roots to C-CORE and many professionals who previously gained experience in the entrepreneurial driving forces in new businesses in all regions of Canada.

On the west coast a group of ocean entrepreneurs from all sectors have created a consortium, the Canadian ocean frontiers research initiative, to research and develop ocean technology projects in the specific exclusive economic zone. Marine transportation is vitally important to Canada's economic well-being. The marine sector handles 40 per cent of the freight shipped each year, a good chunk of the exports we sell. It generates over $2.5 billion in revenue annually and directly employs some 47,000 Canadians.

Examples of innovations such as this will build Canada's future, and the oceans are the medium of opportunity. The Canada oceans act will ensure that we continue to look to the oceans as a source of economic wealth both in the traditional ways and in new ways. Innovation opens new opportunities for ocean resources.

Our oceans are a source of great pride to me and to the members of the government. Now Canadians will have an opportunity to share this pride through their involvement in the oceans management strategy contained in part II of this bill. To develop the oceans management strategy we will be talking with Canadians and we will be learning from each other about our great ocean territory. These discussions will serve a number of purposes. They will create a framework for the oceans of the future. They will articulate what our oceans mean to our national dream. They will raise awareness of what oceans have meant to the cultural history of this great nation of ours. Canadians will decide.

Ocean awareness will ensure that Canadians will make the right management decisions. Awareness creates understanding and

understanding prompts stewardship. We have much to do to generate awareness, but there have been some good starts.

Cultural, heritage and conservation groups from across Canada have documented the influence and impact of the oceans on local history. The New Brunswick Conservation Council's Voices of the Bay tells us a history of the Bay of Fundy from the perspective of those who have lived on its tides. The Western Education Development Group's The Beach Book provides us with a glimpse of sea life on the Pacific.

Educational material that creates ocean awareness has been developed by organizations such as the Vancouver Aquarium, the Huntsman Marine Science Institute and the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Students all over Canada benefit from the material distributed to them by these organizations.

The oceans are an important subject to students. The planet earth is somewhat misnamed, as over 70 per cent of it is covered by oceans. Politically it is fairly simple to create boundaries on dry land, but global oceans defy political boundary. The oceans tie the fate of each nation to a common global fate. Stewardship of the ocean is at one time a regional, a national and an international responsibility. What better way to ensure sound stewardship in the future than to educate those future stewards today.

For Canadians our ocean geography is particularly unique.

No other country in the world can claim to include three distinct ocean ecosystems within its exclusive economic zone. The Arctic, the Atlantic and the Pacific are as unique and different in climate and life form as are the prairies, the Canadian shield and the tundra.

I look forward to the day when classrooms across Canada will be filled with ocean projects, students tracking icebergs and salmon, drawing the paths of circumpolar pollution and measuring the high tides of the Bay of Fundy. I look forward to the day when we describe the Canadian landscape with ocean references as well as with land references.

I want Canadian school children to be able to point out the Grand Banks and the archipelago on a map as easily as they can find the Rockies in the west or the Appalachian Mountains in the east.

I would certainly urge all of my colleagues in the House in join me in voting in favour of this legislation, not because of the importance of the legislation but because of the importance of the oceans to all Canadians.

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5:35 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say I am a little stunned. What I would like to hear from the hon. member relates to two issues.

Why could Canadian students not study Canada's marine geography before the introduction of Bill C-26, the legislation on ocean management? I think the main thrust of Bill C-26 is to define the management strategy. What is important in a so-called national strategy are the partners who will support this strategy.

I know the hon. member, but I do not remember whether he is in his first or second term. By the way he answers-

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October 7th, 1996 / 5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

It is his last.

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5:35 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Someone says it is his last, but we will see at the next election.

I would like the hon. member to tell me, in order to protect ourselves from the risk of a change of government-I know some will work very hard for a change of government, as there may be also changes in provincial government-is it not appropriate at this stage to properly define the rights and powers of the provinces and the federal government on this management issue, so that we do not revive the squabbles of the past?

When people leave, if things are ill defined, the imbroglio starts again. We only have to remember the time where Brian Peckford was the Liberal premier of Newfoundland, and we had a Conservative Prime Minister in the House. They were like cats and dogs. At that time, Newfoundland could not make itself heard on the status of conservation of the resource that was at its door.

If these rights and powers are well specified now, we will indeed solve these problems and, no matter what parties are elected, those who follow will know what to do. In that sense, history will show Canadian students that the hon. member is greatly in favour of education. They will remember that the people who were here during the 35th Parliament took action to ensure there a well preserved resource will remain.

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5:35 p.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question and his points of concern.

Obviously we must encourage and develop our students in the future to have access to more information on our oceans because they are, as I said in my speech, going to be the stewards in future years both environmentally for our oceans and all other components on this earth.

Yes, the bill does acknowledge partnerships with various groups and organizations, be they provinces of this great country that border on our ocean territories, be they fishing communities or environmental organizations. That is what it is all about. It is listening to one another. What works in one area quite frankly may not work in another area.

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5:40 p.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, in his intervention my friend, the hon. member from the Gaspé, noted the crux of Bill C-26 was to define management strategies for the oceans act. When the bill was before committee the main Inuit organization in the Nunavut territory advised the committee that certain sections of the bill were ultra vires given the Nunavut land claims agreement.

The organization suggested the bill be amended to acknowledge that the governor in council could not make regulations under the act unless they were approved by the Nunavut land claims authority.

Given that the response of the government was to acknowledge that federal authority in Arctic waters is limited by the land claims agreement, what guarantees can the member for Carleton-Charlotte give the people of Canada that their interests in the Arctic will be protected by this bill?

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5:40 p.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the bill provides the framework to discuss with groups in the Arctic, groups in the Atlantic, groups in the Pacific the future and the stewardship of oceans. With reference to the Arctic Ocean, our future there and the various interventions that may have been made in the past or may be made in the future, this is extremely important.

That is why consultation is so important. That is what the bill is all about. It provides that opportunity for consultation in the future.

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5:40 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's comments. I want to ask the hon. member the same question I asked one of his colleagues earlier for which I did not get an answer whatsoever.

When this bill was before the House at report stage, the Reform Party put forward seven specific amendments to better the bill. The thrust of what we were trying to accomplish with those amendments was to make the point that we feel it is crucial that any and all fees are implemented only after a full socioeconomic impact analysis has been carried out, that they reflect the level and cost of the specific service and are discussed and implemented in a fully transparent manner with fully ongoing consultation with affected resource users.

The hon. member mentioned the importance of consultation and that this bill will allow that. Why then would the hon. member's party vote against those amendments?

I asked this question of one of his colleagues earlier and I did not get an answer. I would ask how this member voted and if he knows why his party voted against those amendments which would allow for that consultation.

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5:40 p.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not have before me a copy of the amendments the member spoke of. I can certainly guess that judging from the past they were not seen to be complementary in improving the bill. That is why they were turned down and not supported in that case.

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5:40 p.m.


Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, before speaking on Bill C-26, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Gaspé on the excellent job he is doing on this issue.

I am pleased to rise in this House to speak on Bill C-26, an act respecting the oceans of Canada. The bill is based essentially on three parts: first, the recognition of Canada's jurisdiction over its ocean areas; second, a legislative framework for a national oceans management strategy; and third, the granting of powers to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, including the power to fix fees, power over marine sciences and, of course, power over the coast guard.

Bill C-26 is a perfect example of how little respect the federal government has for the provinces. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is set to unilaterally impose a fee structure on the marine industry for the services provided by the coast guard, particularly navigational aids and icebreaking.

Not only does it impose a fee structure that is far from equitable, but Bill C-26 also encroaches upon provincial jurisdiction, which it totally ignores, granting the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the power to act without first obtaining the consent of the provincial governments concerned.

The minister uses Bill C-26 as an excuse to legislate in areas that currently fall under provincial jurisdiction or in a grey area. It is clear that the minister is taking this opportunity to settle the situation in his favour by taking over areas where he would like to act alone. The most blatant evidence of this is the fact that the provinces were barely considered in the process.

The tactic is simple: the provinces are led to believe that consultations are being carried out in good faith, but the government then acts according to plan, without making any changes.

We now see the result. While the bill is not yet in force, the Canadian coast guard has already started charging the shipping industry for its services. It should be the other way around. The mess the minister will be plunging the shipping industry and the pleasure craft industry into will come as a surprise to no one.

Just look at the provisions of Bill C-26 and you will understand the meaning of chaos, a real mess.

I will now look at part I of Bill C-26 entitled "Canada's maritime zones". This part refers to the rights the government wishes to legislate. Since the law of the sea is covered under an

international convention, jurisdiction over maritime zones is established accordingly.

This legislation is so much wishful thinking and fine principles. The problem is that the provincial jurisdiction over maritime zones is being totally ignored. Worse still, the government is using the preamble of Bill C-26 to claim sovereign rights over this jurisdiction. Bloc Quebecois members are not fooled by these tactics, and neither are the provinces.

Part II of Bill C-26 sets out the legislative framework for the establishment of a national oceans management strategy. As I said before, the government is trying to assume new powers by taking advantage of existing grey areas. The result is an inappropriate legislative framework and persisting doubts over federal responsibilities as far as oceans management is concerned.

This vague legislative framework is deliberate and suggests that the minister intends to interfere in areas which should come under provincial jurisdiction. As an example, Bill C-26 refers to provincial ministers as mere associates. It goes even further, and places interested persons and bodies on the same level.

The main element of this part of the legislation is without any doubt the environment to which it refers. Indeed, Bill C-26 gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans environmental powers which already belong to the Department of the Environment.

It is as though a sectoral environment department was being established within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a coastal environment department. Why not abolish the existing environment department and transfer the responsibility for environment protection and conservation to all the departments? This would make it a total mess.

Seriously, we know that the tendency in the environment sector is to centralize powers in Ottawa. With Bill C-26, and supposedly because of the national interest, as defined in the Constitution, and the global nature of environmental problems, the fisheries and oceans minister will assume all the powers, including some which are not his relating to the environment.

The best example of this is the definition of "sustainable development", which is found in the bill instead of in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The fisheries and oceans minister will also have the right to develop and to implement a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. In order to achieve all this, officials will first have to set up activity management plans, establish management and consultation organizations, develop multiple programs and environmental standards, as well as collect and analyze scientific data on these ecosystems.

All this implies that the fisheries and oceans minister will turn his department into a perfect model of duplication and waste of public moneys, since it will get involved in all these activities which, incidentally, are already being conducted by Environment Canada or the provinces. Since the minister will be under no obligation to work in co-operation with officials from the environment department or any other department, let alone with the provinces, it should come as no surprise that the marine sector cannot understand what is going on. All this is unacceptable.

Part III of Bill C-26 gives the minister powers regarding fees, marine sciences and the coast guard. It is to be noted that, while the bill has not been passed yet, the minister has already implemented the first stage of the fee structure for navigation aids, which will bring in $20 million. Indeed, companies were billed during the summer, even though the impact study on such fees will only be completed in November. Anyway, we already know what the results will be: the fees will have a devastating impact on the job situation in the marine sector in Canada and in Quebec.

Also, the whole fee policy is unfair. The minister is using the user fee principle to justify the regional rates, which give him the opportunity, for instance, to help out his native province of Newfoundland by granting considerable reductions, which the regions of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes will have to make up for.

We already know that these fees will greatly undermine the competitiveness of the ports in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes areas. The minister also intends to implement charges for dredging ports and the St. Lawrence seaway as well as for ice breaking along waterways. These measures are putting the ports of Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Matane and Rimouski in jeopardy, and that is unacceptable.

Bill C-26 undermines the power of the provinces by granting the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans exclusive powers over the maritime areas, all in the so-called best interests of the country. The government will only succeed in creating a total administrative mess and costly duplication by setting up an unfair fee schedule and by granting the Department of Fisheries and Oceans powers in environmental matters, which are already dealt with by the Minister of Environment.

The proposed measures in Bill C-26 are a threat to the marine sector and this is unacceptable, since the current economic situation requires rational and stimulating action to help create and develop jobs.